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inhuman Domitian, are condemned to everlasting infamy During fourscore years (excepting only the short and doubtful respite of Vespasian's reign)51 Rome groaned beneath an unremitting tyranny, which exterminated the ancient families of the republic, and was fatal to almost every virtue and erery talent that arose in that unhappy period.
Under the reign of these monsters, the slavery of the Romans was accompanied with two peculiar circumstances, the one occasioned by their former liberty, the o,her by their extensive conquests, which rendered their condition more completely wretched than that of the victims of tyranny in any other age or country. From these causes were derived, 1. The exquisite sensibility of the sufferers; and, 2. The impossibility of escaping from the hand of the oppressor.
L When Persia was governed by the descendants of Sen, a race of princes whose wanton cruelty often stained their divan, their table, and their bed, with the blood of their favorites, there is a saying recorded of a young nobleman, that he never departed from the sultan's presence, without satisfying himself whether his head was still on his shoulders. Tho experience of every day might almost justify the scepticism of Rustan.59 Yet the fatal sword, suspended above him by a single thread, seems not to have disturbed the slumbers, or interrupted the tranquillity, of the Persian. The monarch's frown, he well knew, could level him with the dust; but tho stroke of lightning or apoplexy might be equally fatal; and it was the part of a wise man to forget the inevitable calamities of human life in the enjoyment of the fleeting hour. He was dignified with the appellation of the king's slave; had, perhaps, been purchased from obscure parents, in a country which he had never known; and was trained up from his infancy in the severe discipline of the seraglio.53 His name,
with dignity, or even decency. Tacitus fairly calls him a hog, hut it is by substituting for a coarse word a very fine image. "At Vitellius, umbraculis hortorum abditus, ut ignava animalia, quibus si cibura suggeras, jacent torpentque, preterite, instantia, futura, pari oblivione dimiserat. Atque ilium ncmore Aricino desidem et marcentem," &c. Tacit. Hist iii. 36, ii. 95. Sueton. in Vitell. c. IS. Dion Cassius. 1. lxv. p. 1062.
u The execution of Hclvidius Priscus, and of the virtuous Eponina, disgraced the reign of Vespasian.
"Voyage do Chardin en Perse, vol. iii. p. 293.
u The practice of raising slaves to the great offices of state is still more common among the Turks than among the Persians. The Vol. i. 9
his wealth, his honors, were the gift of a master, who might, without injustice, resume what he had bestowed. Rustan's knowledge, if he possessed any, could on y serve to confirm his habits by prejudices. His language afforded not words for any form of government, except absolute monarchy. The history of the East informed him, that such had ever been the condition of mankind.54 The Koran, and the interpreters of that divine book, inculcated to him, that the sultan was the descendant of the prophet, and the vicegerent of heaven; that patience was the first virtue of a Mussulman, and unlimited obedience the great duty of a subject.
The minds of the Romans were very differently prepared for slavery. Oppressed beneath the weight of their own corruption and of military violence, they for a long while pre served the sentiments, or at least the ideas, of their free-born ancestors. The education of Helvidius and Thrasea, of Tacitus and Pliny, was the same as that of Cato and Cicero. From Grecian philosophy, they had imbibed the justest and most liberal notions of the dignity of human nature, and the origin of civil society. The history of their own country had taught them to revere a free, a virtuous, and a victorious commonwealth; to abhor the successful crimes of Casar and Augustus; and inwardly to despise those tyrants whom they adored with the most abject flattery. As magistrates and senators, they were admitted into the great council, which had once dictated laws to the earth, whose name still gave a sanction to the acts of the monarch, and whose authority was so often prostituted to the vilest purposes of tyranny. Tiberius, and '.hose emperors who adopted his maxims, attempted to disguise their murders by the formalities of justice, and perhaps enjoyed a secret pleasure in rendering the senate their accom plice as well as their victim. By this assembly, the last of the Romans were condemned for imaginary crimes and real virtues. Their infamous accusers assumed the language of independent patriots, who arraigned a dangerous citizen before the tribunal of his country; and the public service was rewarded by riches and honors.55 The servile judges professed
miserable countries of Georgia and Circassia supply rulers to the greatest part of the East.
M (Jhardin says, that European travellers have diffused among the Persians some ideas of the freedom and mildness of our governments. They have done thom a very ill office.
*' They alleged the example of Scipio and Ccto, (Tacit. AnnaL iiL to assert the majesty of the commonwealth, violated in the person of its first magistrate,58 whose clemency they most applauded when they trembled the most at his inexorable and impending cruelty.57 The tyrant beheld their baseness with hist contempt, and encountered their secret sentiments of detestation with sincere and avowed hatred for the whole body of the senate.
II. The division of Europe into a number of independent states, connected, however, with each other by the general resemblance of religion, language, and manners, is productive of the most beneficial consequences to the liberty of mankind. A modern tyrant, who should find no resistance either in his own breast, or in his people, would soon experience a gentle restraint from the example of his equals, the dread of present censure, the advice of his allies, and the apprehension of his enemies. The object of his displeasure, escaping from the narrow limits of his dominions, would easily obtain, in a happier climate, a secure refuge, a new fortune adequate to his merit, the freedom of complaint, and perhaps the means of revenge. But the empire of the Romans filled the world, and when that empire fell into the hands of a single person, the world became a safe and dreary prison for his enemies. The slave of Imperial despotism, whether he was condemned to drag his gilded chain in Rome and the senate, or to wear out a life of exile on the barren rock of Seriphus, or the frozen
66.) Marcellua Epirus and Crispus Vibius had acquired two millions and a half under Nero. Their wealth, which aggravated their crimes, protected them under Vespasian. See Tacit. Hist. iv. 43. Dialog. de Orator. c. 8. Por one accusation, Regulus, the just object of Pliny's satire, received from the senate the consular ornaments, and a present of sixty thousand pounds.
** The crime of majetty was formerly a treasonable offence against the Roman people. As tribunes of the people, Augustus and Tiberius applied it to their own persons, and extended it to an infinite latitude.*
"After the virtuous and unfortunate widow of Germanicus had been put to death, Tiberius received the thanks of the senate for his clemency. She had not been publicly strangled; nor was the body drawn with a hook to the Oemonioc, where those of common malefactors were exposed. See Tacit. Annal. vi. 25. Sueton. in Tiberio.
* It was Tiberius, not Augustus, who first took in this sense the words crimen laesa? majestatis. Bachii Trajanus, 27. — W.
banks of the Danube, expected his fate in silent despair.58 To resist was fatal, and it was impossible to fly. On every side he was encompassed with a vast extent of sea and land, which he could never hope to traverse without being discovered, seized, and restored to his irritated master. Beyond the frontiers, his anxious view could discover nothing, except the ocean, inhospitable deserts, hostile tribes of barbarians, of fierce manners and unknown language, or dependent kings, who would gladly purchase the emperor's protection by the sacrifice of an obnoxious fugitive." "Wherever you are," said Cicero to the exiled Marcellus, "remember that you are equally within the power of the conqueror."60
s9 Seriphus was a small rocky island in the -35gean Sea, the inhabitants of which were despised for their ignorance and obscurity. The .place of Ovid's exile is well known, by his just, but unmanly lamentations. It should seem, that he only received an order to leave Rome in so many days, and to transport himself to Tomi. Guards and jailers were unnecessary.
"Under Tiberius, a Roman knight attempted to fly to the Parthian*. He was stopped in the straits of Sicily; but so little danger did there appear in the example, that the most jealous of tyrants disdained to punish it. Tacit. Annal vi. 14.
*J Cicero ad Familiare*. It. 7.
THE CRUELTY, FOLLIES, AND MURDER OF COMMODUS.— ELKC
TION OF PERTINAX. HIS ATTEMPTS TO REFORM THE STATE.
HIS ASSASSINATION BY THE PR.ETORIAN GUARDS.
The mildness of Marcus, which the rigid discipline of the Stoics was unable to eradicate, formed, at the same time, the most amiable, and the only defective, part of his character. His excellent understanding was often deceived by the unsuspecting goodness of his heart Artful men, who study the passions of princes, and conceal their own, approached his person in the disguise of philosophic sanctity, and acquired riches and honors by affecting to despise them.1 His excessive indulgence to his brother,* his wife, and his son, exceeded the bounds of private virtue, and became a public injury, by the example and consequences of their vices.
Faustina, the daughter of Pius and the wife of Marcus, has been as much celebrated for her gallantries as for her beauty. The grave simplicity of the philosopher was ill calculated to engage her wanton levity, or to fix that unbounded passion for variety, which often discovered personal merit in the meanest of mankind.9 The Cupid of the ancients was, in general, a very sensual deity; and the amours of an empress, as they exact on her side the plainest advances, are seldom susceptible of much sentimental delicacy. Marcus was the only man in the empire who seemed ignorant or insensible of the irregularities of Faustina; which, according to the prejudices of every age, reflected some disgrace on the injured husband.
1 See the complaints of Avidiua Cassius, Hist. August p. 45 These are, it is true, the complaints of faction; but even faction exaggerates, rather than invents.
1 Faustinam satis constat apud Cajctam conditions sibi et nauticas et gladiatorias, elcgisse. Hist August p. 30. Lampridius explains the sort of merit which Faustina chose, and the conditions which she exacted. Hist August. p. 102.
• His brother by adoption, and his colleague, L. Verus. Marcis AutoBus hid no other brother.—"W.